DHARMSALA, India, Dec. 4 (AP) -- The Dalai Lama on Monday celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ascension as Tibet's teenage head of state, and confirmed during the elaborate ceremony that his government-in-exile was again in contact with China.

The exiled Buddhist religious and political leader Tibet told reporters that his administration had resumed contact with Beijing, stalled since 1998.

The news came during a daylong festivity marking his rise to political power as a teenager in 1950.

The Dalai Lama said his brother, Gyalo Thundup, who had led previous missions to China, was invited to visit Beijing about three months ago.

After his brother returned to Dharmsala--where the exiled government is based--the Dalai Lama asked Beijing for permission to send a fact-finding delegation to Tibet.

The Dalai Lama said contact was an opportunity to exchange views, and he repeated his position that he did not want independence for his homeland.

"Of course, everybody knows I am not seeking independence. My commitment to the middle way is not changed," said the Dalai Lama, referring to his compromise offer to accept autonomy for Tibet within China.

The Tibetan government-in-exile has not yet received a response to the request. But the Dalai Lama confirmed that the potential visit was the reason he has postponed a planned visit to Taiwan.

Monday's events marked the 50th anniversary of the day the Dalai Lama took political office in Tibet, at the age of 16, before its annexation by China.

A failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule led to his flight to India, where he established a government-in-exile in 1960.

Monday's ceremony included offerings to the Dalai Lama from a number of high lamas, members of his Cabinet, and family members.

Foreign guests included prominent Tibet scholar Robert Thurman of Columbia University, and a five-member delegation of staffers for members of the U.S. Congress.

Other events to mark the anniversary included a three-day conference held last week on future options for political systems for Tibet, and a conference of religious leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, which concluded on Sunday.

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